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- Facebook is making more hires in robotics.
- The Silicon Valley tech giant is hiring a visiting scientist to work on robotics hardware — including "legged Robotics platforms," and robot hands.
- The company uses robotics as a way to try and attract artificial intelligence research talent to Facebook.
Facebook is quietly thinking about how to build robots with hands and legs.
The Silicon Valley tech firm is best-known for its suite of ultra-popular apps, from Facebook to Instagram and WhatsApp. In recent years, however, it has invested heavily in artificial intelligence research, and uses robotics as a key plank of its efforts in that regard.
A recent job listing by Facebook gives a clue as to the kind of areas that Facebook is looking at: The company is currently trying to hire a Visiting Scientist for its Artificial Intelligence Team — and they are "expected to have extensive experience with mobile and/or legged Robotic Platforms."
The hire’s responsibilities will also include "hardware integration of robotic hands," and "binocular cameras," indicating attempts to build human-style vision with visual input from two sources — sort of like like human eyes.
Facebook’s AI research boss Yann LeCunn has spoken publicly about the importance of having robotics at Facebook as a means of luring AI talent to the company. "We can’t attract other researchers without having research in this area," he said in July 2018.
But efforts like this role — and others like it — indicate that Facebook isn’t solely working on robotic theory or simulations in software. The company is actively building physical robotics hardware.
Similarly, Business Insider previously reported that Facebook has quietly been developing "soft robotics" — an experimental field of robotics that draws inspiration from biology — think lizard tongues, octopuses, elephant trunks, and so on — to build flexible robots that can move like living organisms.
While hands, legs, and dual-eyes conjure up stereotypical images of humanoid robots, it’s by no means clear what projects the visiting scientist would actually be working on. Facebook declined to comment, but the company tends not to talk about its more experimental work or unannounced products.
Facebook has previously patented ideas for robots that can follow you around the home — providing a tantalizing glimpse at how, in the distant future, Facebook could put its research into a commercial product.
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